Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 25, 2014 1:00am-3:01am EDT

1:00 am
it was a reaction to the british occupation of egypt created in 1928 that the british were somehow involved in the jihad. we can go back and back and back. it seems to me the fundamental problem as pete has suggested, you have a country with lots of people who don't need outside encouragement to want to find other people in their own country in a battle for control, influence, and resources and the answer is not that outsiders can sosh this problem, but that outsiders need to create the conditions under which people on the inside of iraq can solve the problems. one of the things i find sort of wonderfully ironic about the complaints i heard from egyptians about policy to egypt offense the years, they're too interventionlingist in egyptian
1:01 am
politics and you didn't force morsi from story and not keeping him in power, but stay out of our politics. there is this irony, we play a small role. we can play a small role. we can be catalysts for things, but i think to argue that we are the drivers of jihad, that we were the drivers of extremist in iraq to me given a whole host of factors involved, given the stakes that people feel every single day versus the extent to which americans don't have to live with the consequences, i think the responsibility has to be 95% on the people who were living this every day and 5% on the outsiders who were trying sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for self-interested reasons to affect the outcomes. >> let me try to answer this
1:02 am
question. i'm not an expert on terrorism, but believe it or not, in 1991 during george bush the first presidency when we, and i refer to call it the iraqi pro democracy proximity rather than the iraqi opposition, we could not meet with the united states government because we were all classified as terrorists. we go back to saying one group's freedom fighter is another group's terrorist. is fidel castro, the list goes on. personally within my own mind, i can clearly distinguish a terrorist from a freedom fighter, but unfortunately it's not closer with other people, a person who slashes the neck of his opponent is a terrorist. i don't care what race or religion he is. a important who fights to liberate his land is a freedom fighter, but then there are gray areas between the two. >> just one comment, i remember
1:03 am
about six or seven years ago, i was in jerusalem in one of the minivans that takes people from place to place, it had a sticker in the window with the slogan of the state of new hampshire of live free or die which in that moment was a rather arresting image to see, errorist or freedom fighter. >> yes, sir. >> good morning, i can call myself an iraqi expert. i'm an iraqi. i'm one of the rebels in 1991 ho rose up against saddam. there is a fact that everybody not only in the room is missing which is basically the everybody thinks that the root problem is within the grassroots among see ya and sunni and the fact is it's not.
1:04 am
thank god, it's still not. but the fact is the sectarian divide exists mostly within the political class and especially the ruling class and the proof of that is that the iraqis have adopted and absorbed democracy in the changing iraq in accepting new iraq and the fact is the regional affect of it or influence, the regional influence is still so backward to the point they're fighting it so that it won't spread around to their own countries. so i believe, i think this will address the gentleman's question and the gentleman's point. >> thank you. i think this was mentioned by all of you. >> we agree. >> everybody is in agreement. >> we're in violent agreement. >> i can't help it. >> just a quick comment for the doctor. just a quick comment who
1:05 am
happens to be a friend of myope and happens to be from the province of basra. thank you for providing 94% of the iraqi budget where all the oil comes from. [laughter] >> thank you, i'm with the freedom institute. i have two questions for the colonel. they're both regarding why the raqi troops didn't defend most ul. there are two points you did not mention. i want to know whether you agree or disagree or consider them important or not important. one newspaper report, i saw some american military, none military personnel saying that the troops who were in that part of iraq who had been trained by the americans, had been trained to fight against trivial not to fight against the kind of invasion that they were confronted with. the other point is that when the isis came into the area,
1:06 am
they announced on loud speakers everyone should stay in their homes, we're not after the civilians, we're after the soldiers, that would have provided a great incentive for the soldiers to take off their iforms and pretend they're civilians. i want to hear what you think? >> the second is true. i heard from my sources on the ground in most ul. they came in and said we're not hear to harm civilians, stay in your homes. the governor of mosul right now is an ex-iraqi army officer, not a former jihaddy. they have moved on to fight further south. i agree with you on that. it's probably correct and that did give the soldiers the opportunity to shed their uniforms. on what they were trained to do by americans, i would say that we had, by the time we had left had trained the iraqi army
1:07 am
fairly competently up through company and batallion level. that is the company may be 200 soldiers, battalion, maybe 600 to 700. larger formations take longer time to train and when we withdrew our forces at the end of 2011 by mutual consent, we stopped that development of the iraqi army into an army that could defend the state. this was by mutual agreement. we can point fingers at who is to blame. we can talk about that here if you want, but the fact is that when the american advisory effort ended, there wasn't any effort by another entity to pick up the role and so the development of the iraqi army was arrested at that point. the major problem, i played football in high school and my coaches always said, you can't coach desire, right.
1:08 am
you can't make someone want to fight. they have got to want it because of, you know, they feel strongly about the soldiers around them, about their commander, about their country, about something. these soldiers simply didn't have anything to fight for. their commanders were corrupt. their country was, their government was one that by and large they didn't believe in and they were fighting for mosul, a city that obviously they didn't feel strongly about protecting or in some cases, ght have felt better about isis than their own agreement. this is a problem. this protostate that has been created is going to take a long time to chip away at it unless you get the people on the ground to want to ejeekt iso from among themselves. it's going to be a sore in this
1:09 am
region for not just days and months, weeks and months but years. that is a problem for the west. >> can i do a follow-up? >> yes, you can. >> just a follow-up answer is that the united states trains the iraqi army and generals to fight wars. they didn't train them to be ethical. the corruption is actually very, very high. there is a report of about 40% of the soldiers or the officers within the iraqi army are called phantom. in other words they receive salaries, but do not report to work. iraq pays 1.1 million persons salaries, but 40% do not exist. how can you fight a war with phantom soldiers? >> the pay of the phantom soldiers goes into the pockets of the commanders. >> that is corruption. >> i want to correct one thing. we actually did train ethics nd we trained obedience to
1:10 am
civilian authority and so forth, but without an american advisory effort and american units to partner with, there is o one there to oversee bad commanders to say this guy needs to be relieved. when we were there, for instance, maliki removed every single brigade commander in the national police and 2/3 of the battalion commanders, some of them twice. we forced accountability on the state, but when we removed that heck on maliki's tendencies, he was able to do whatever he wanted to do including a vice president of the state of iraq. >> just to follow up on that, maliki has his own set of political considerations some of which to have a fighting
1:11 am
force and networks and all of those other sorts of things. one of the things that was interesting to me about your account is wasn't clear to me from your account whether maliki thought that the u.s. was actually vital in his winning. maliki may have thought that the reason that he won is because he understands iraq and the americans, all their happy talk about everybody getting along, that's the way americans fight. one of the thing that has been striking, i have seen maliki speak in washington, one of the funny things about people who speak in washington and watch this the next time you hear somebody, everybody speaks in washington, they want to be loved, everybody comes to washington, they want to be loved, they want to be understood, they want to be appreciated. there was this sort of needyness that speakers convey. maliki came, i heard him speak and i have never heard of somebody who seemed to exhibit
1:12 am
such patent disinterest in being loved, in being understood. he said here is my deal. this is what i'm doing. i think one of the things that is important to keep in mind as e talk about corruption in the iraqi military is it is conceivable to me that there are iraqis who have concluded that this is actually a better way to run things because then people are dependent on you, then you have the support of people you can rely on people, you have reliable people politically and we will deal with the other stuff later and this sort of american desire for cleanliness and sharp lines between things, i'm not sure it's always what leaders in the region think is either necessary or advantageous for them to do a much more complex set of tasks than to be able to
1:13 am
win an engagement cleanly and quickly on a battlefield. >> you mean that everyone coming to washington want to be loved, is that american politicians? >> especially including american politicians. [laughter] >> although, they're not doing so well. >> not for lack of trying. >> i'm allen richman from that distant suburb of baghdad called chicago. let's assume that this morning, prime minister maliki woke up and said i want to live in chicago and i'm leaving. what you presented today is a conundrum. the con nun drama is, ok, we have talked about having the right sort of government for iraq, you talked about the con nun drama that the political elites are all self-interested and whatever. the facts on the ground are when you organize a government that is based on the parliament that was just elected and whatever, who are the people, who are potentially the leaders
1:14 am
that could come together and have a sufficient political rce domestically to lead a unified federal iraq. >> i'll try to answer this one. i worked for a company that was motorola. icago, i'm pretty familiar and been there several times. there is a myth that maliki won the election. maliki won 94 seats out of 328 seats, the other group which i prefer to call the movement for change, the movement for change includes all kurdish parties, all sunni parties and most see ya parties. this group has collected up to now about 201 seats. so in my limited mathematical ability, 201 is better than 95 seats. so maliki did not win because had he won, he would is had
1:15 am
more than 165 seats. anywhere in the world, you can't pass for less 50%. he won 28% of the seats in parliament. the same thing happened four years ago. the two opponents had 23% and 24% of the vote. the movement for change is the one that should have been listened to before the crisis in mosul. there has been a delay, an attendant delay to announce the results of the election, the election which i voted for and i had my purple finger in baghdad on the 30th of april and the results were delayed about a month before they were announced and the ratification of the results was not done until about a week ago. a week ago the supreme court in iraq ratified the results of the election. according to the constitution, we have 15 days to announce a
1:16 am
new government. as of today, we have six more days, by the end of june according to the iraqi constitution and the new government, i would like to emphasize the word new, highlight underlined, a new government will be formed. the iraqis themselves again, 201 seats out of 328, the vast majority have called for a new government and that's what we'll see very, very soon. >> the question is who is the leading candidate for the movement of change to be prime minister? >> one more piece of information. things are moving very, very fast. thanks for reminding me. there are actually, also, on friday, on friday, called for a new government. the day after that, there were five candidates that were announced within the national alliance, the national alliance is the shia alliance of the national alliance has five candidates, none of them is
1:17 am
maliki. maliki has nominated one of his chief of staff and there are four other candidates for prime inister. >> i'm from the american task force on palestine. two questions, what should we expect from kerry's visit in baghdad today and after a meeting with p.m. maliki that he said was good, how should we read in-between the lines on that? >> none of us was in the meeting. good means exactly what it means, it was good. i've talked to somebody who actually saw a meeting with maliki and it wasn't with a democrat, it was with a republican who was dr. condoleezza rice. what happens in those meetings is not what you hear in the news conference afterwards. i heard things she said that i cannot repeat here. in those meetings, they get
1:18 am
very close and personal. i'm sure no one is going to share exactly what was said. >> i have been in on those meetings with general petraeus. the best outcome is a very full and frank discussion. occasionally general petraeus would show the full range of human emotions to get his point across. that is not what comes out of the press briefings of wards. i wouldn't read much into good. it's good that he is there. the secretary of state should be deeply involved in knitting together some sort of diplomatic agreement, even with the i ranans. a government in baghdad will fail if the i ranans want it to fail. they can't make one succeed. they can inject violence into the country in the form of the proxy mylishias.
1:19 am
we should mandate a government that all iraqis can support. what we don't want is this sort of rump state in southern iraq beholden to iran. that would be very bad for u.s. national security and i think for the world as well. >> just a piece of advice, i don't know exactly what the reason for the trip is and i'm not sure they have arrived at a clear ambition. the biggest error is aiming low. it's going small to try to get us out of a crisis. i think this is an opportunity to think more largely about the region, to think more largely about the set of relationships, to think about the fact that so many people have so much at stake in what happens in iraq. to me the worst case scenario is a desire to come back in three days and say look how much we have accomplished and then move on to something else. -- kerry's me
1:20 am
attributes. he is does not have fatigue and has incredible amounts of energy. i hope he puts that energy in working in a sustained way toward solving what seems to be a whole web of regional hallenges. >> zakhartchenko grossman, you starred to bring it up, but who else should be involved in facilitating talks with the iraqis. i know the americans, we should be involved. you mentioned that we should be talking to the iranians. who else in the region should be at the talks? >> i'm not sure anybody else should be at the meetings, but people we should talk to, clearly the turks, we need to consult with the saudis, the
1:21 am
jordanans because they're right next door. i'm not sure we're talking to asaad, the i ranans. it's important to get regional buy-in as john has so admirably laid out for the way ahead. we should be talking to the iraqi parties as well. this idea that, well, they have democracy so we shouldn't get involved, you really think tehran thinks that way with the funding the political parties and their deep tentacles in the iraqi politics? we need to get involved and at the highest level. >> let's not forget there is a european role. we should be talking to the chinese who have profound interest. they don't want to get involved in the politics, they should understand the things they can do that are helpful and harmful. this is a big deal. i think when we think about the diplomacy, again, the mistake is if you go too small and you say, we just want maliki to let
1:22 am
the other guys in the tent and we'll work it all out. i think the opportunity and the obligation is to think big. the reason you have to think big is the alternative future is the one that the doctor laid out, a 30 years war in the middle east. let me tell you about the 30 years war in middle europe, killed the central third of the population. i don't think we want to go down that road. >> i feel that nobody should get involved. it is an iraqi issue. we have the treatment of speech. what i'm seeing here is what i said in iraq when i was in iraq. i am an opponent to the dictatorship. i'm a pro democracy movement. i said the whole thing. nobody should get involved. maliki won 95 seats, the movement for change won 201 seats. they should have the next government. >> we are running out of time so we'll take it here.
1:23 am
>> my question actually about how do we know that isis is sunni majority? by nature they would try to reach out to jordan, what would the u.s. do to secure the jordanan american interest and make sure that the civility of jordan will always be there? the other question, how would the facts on the ground and the iraq crisis affect a nuclear ambition for iran and negotiation? thank you. >> the united states actually has a very close military relationship with jordan as well as a close diplomatic relationship so we're on the ground now with military forces in jordan and we're also there in a hall of fame attorney row.
1:24 am
i think the stability of jordan is something that the united states government takes seriously and it's doing what it can to make sure that that state doesn't implode the way syria and at least portions of iraq have. you want to talk about the nuclear ambitions. i can. >> i think the way to think about the nuclear missions to see it as pardon of a broader iranian effort to improve their position as a way to improve their security. iran's self-image is that they are surrounded by hostile win a that they cannot
1:25 am
symmetrical war against anybody. that's why they stress symmetrical tactics. and what they don't quite understand is that they diminish their security by making everybody feel insecure and arming against them and it creates this sort of cycle. it's what is known in washington as a self-licking ice cream cone. the problem sort of deals with itself. they see iraq, they see things in motion as opportunities to advance their interests and what worries me, bothers me is that they particularly see the rise in iraq as this takes the ure off and maliki and shia led government if you see it that way more reliant on us and it gives us a card to deal with the americans.
1:26 am
so it becomes three elements of advantage and it seems to me that the way to deal with that is to understand the way they understand their interests, to understand what they see their vulnerabilities to be, to understand what they are trying to protect and work in that context. i think just the way the iranians don't want to be in a symmetrical confrontation with the united states, they don't want to deal with conventional military forces, i think we don't want to be involved in sort of head-to-head bargaining relationship with the iranians. my sense of how that would play is that it would actually increase tensions rather than dim anybody them and to my mind what we have to do with the iranians is to find ways to
1:27 am
enhance interests and build common interests that way because it would make it less likely to have a nuclear deal and to continue down the spiral where the iranians make their neighbors feel less secure rather than more so. >> i would add the worst thing that the united states can do is enter into a military relationship with iran to fight iso to or to bargain away pieces of iran's nuclear programs to advance nuclear interests in iraq. both bad ideas and we should not go down that route. >> i just wanted to add a follow-up answer to your question. there is a new player now who is wanting to meddle into iraqi affairs, vladmir putin. he is now involved and he wants to support the continuation of the current government in iraq. >> we have one question here, we here and then so that
1:28 am
know, there are three people who know they're going to be speaking and i think that will be for the >> we will take them all together first, your questions. >> thank you for having us and organizing this event and planning for it with much foresight. i have two quick questions. oft are the implications recent events in iraq for the status quo in syria? and turkey was mentioned as well during the discussion. what role has turkey played recently in iraq and in syria? part of secretary kerry's engagement strategy going forward? heres take this answer
1:29 am
first. >> anyone of you. so, isil's incursion expanded the conflict. a border that iraq does not recognize and has very little meaning given the fact that violence is spanning the border. it will take some pressure off of assad because the forces fighting in iraq are not fighting in syria. it could mean that the other jihadist groups in syria are going to make inroads into isil territory in syria, which, by
1:30 am
some accounts they already have. dynamics,ll have some but it won't change the fundamental dynamic of the syrian conflict, which is, you have a government under bashar assad who is trying to retain control. it is fighting in opposition that is largely. extreme. i would love to find that mythical moderate secular opposition in syria, but i am afraid one really does not exist, at least not in large numbers. itterms of turkey's role, will be very interesting to see what happens in the kurdish region. turkey and the pkk have come to some court of -- some sort of agreement recently, which is nice, given the amount of violence that the pkk uprising in southeastern turkey has
1:31 am
created. it depends on this -- a great deal on what kurdish leaders forward.d do going whether they are content with a orger stake in a larger iraq if they make a move towards independence to do that. they would need a buy-in from turkey. i don't see a kurdish state as without kurdish support. that is what i would look for going forward. >> it appears to me that what is shift inly at way is a people's thinking that jihad is our useful, and people feeling that jihad is are actually a genuine regional threat. turkey has been willing to acquiesce in jihad is organizing . it is possible that what this does, and it would be because of
1:32 am
american diplomatic efforts and ofers, that the rise dionysian in northern iraq would hin would be more of a problem than a problem solver. it could create greater solidarity to try to isolate the jihad groups, diminished of funding, and potentially affect the outcome, both in iraq and syria. to --r that would be done benefit thomas it does seem to me that there is an opportunity in this to get everybody on the is.e page on the jihad >> three questions in a row and then we will have answers. i was a military physician.
1:33 am
we are assuming that the action against baghdad is only military. what if it is not only military? a -- it mightol create a great crisis if they control the refinery. how can we react to quickly? if not, why not. ? how would you envision a consolation. what is the objective of the new government. ? >> i am originally from iraq.
1:34 am
there is consensus, i think, that the invasion of iraq was embedded with a lot of errors. there was a lot of bad will towards united states. want beforee now and turks to go to iraq all over again and use drones. ? will that not garner more hatred and produce more terrorists? we use drones. drones are a blind instrument despite all the technology. >> this is a question on the regional issue. how can united states attain partnerships with such questionable allies in the region, including saudi arabia,
1:35 am
the gulf monarchies, who have been known to finance the very groups that we are fighting against. in the event that there's is a scanner safe haven, can you state the direct threat to the united states homeland of having terrorist safe haven throughout this region? i know you have said in terms of the timing of diplomacy and those sort of things that there is time, so i would just like to question that. >> we have several questions here. each one of you take a card. as far as reconciliation is concerned, it is not a title. we're not going to bring a person in government because he is a sunni. we will not say here is a sunni token and here's a kurdish token. it is a true partnership based on the efficiency of the government and not based on their ethnic and religious backgrounds.
1:36 am
we are bringing people together to form a unity government that represents iraqis. to answer your question, we don't have an army. there was an ineffective army that did not shoot one bullet to sul. ct the fall of mozi a i was on a panel a week and half ago and somebody made the argument that there are more foreign fighters in syria now than in the entire history of the afghan conflict. up to 12,000. this problem of people transiting is a fundamental security issue, not just for the u.s., but for all of the region. i'm not sure there is direct help from governments in the gulf, there are differing levels of effort to cooperate to stop the financing. i think those efforts need to be enhanced.
1:37 am
>> i know we are running out of time, about u.s. military intervention creating backlash, i agree with you. i think it would if we did it today, because we would simply i, taking sides with malik the person who caused this problem in the first place. that is why i am saying diplomacy and politics first, get a government that is worth u.s.rting, and then military intervention could be conducted in a way that the iraqi people would actually support. >> i want to thank you all and hope you would thank me. i appreciate the panelists with their expert andthat is the insr
1:38 am
1:39 am
1:40 am
1:41 am
1:42 am
1:43 am
1:44 am
1:45 am
1:46 am
1:47 am
1:48 am
1:49 am
1:50 am
1:51 am
1:52 am
1:53 am
1:54 am
1:55 am
general and they're independent. i would render a judgment on their activities and i don't think it would be appropriate for me to. they're independent.
1:56 am
>> for the second day a hearing was held looking into the missing irs e-mails. that's next on c-span3. then a look at the growing violence in iraq. later, remarks from former republican congressman alan west. coming up on the next "washington journal," congressman henry cuellar of texas on circumstances driving unaccompanied immigrant children across the u.s. border and a look at options in iraq and our defense priorities. our guest is representative rob wittman. and late r bob wright will spea on autism. "washington journal" is live every morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. next, former irs official
1:57 am
jennifer o'connor and the david ferriero talk about missing e-mails belonging to lois lerner. lerner is part of an investigation on whether irs targeted political groups seeking tax exempt status. darrell issa oversees this hearing. >> good morning all. if you could please close the doors and be seated. good morning. the committee will come to order without objection the chair is
1:58 am
authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any time. as i said last night late for many of you and i say again this morning, the oversight committee exists to secure two fundamental principles. first, americans have a right to know that the money washington takes from them is well spent. and second, americans deserve an efficient, effective government that works for them. our duty on the oversight and government reform committee is to protect these rights. our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers because taxpayers have a right to know what they get from their government. so it's our job to work tirelessly in partnership with citizen watch dogs to deliver the facts to american people and bring general reform to the federal bureaucracy. this is our mission. this is our passion. and this is what we're here for today. the committee meets today to continue our effort to get to
1:59 am
the truth about the irs' targeting of conservative groups. last night we heard testimony from the commissioner about how and why the irs came to not save and in fact to destroy the disk drive that contained e-mails of the now well understood and criminally charged by the house former head of the organization lois lerner. i say that again. lois lerner has been referred for multiple criminal charges by the ways and means committee and held in contempt by the full house. her disk drive is missing. his testimony included a number of significant admissions and facts. for example, commissioner testified that he has seen no evidence that there was any
2:00 am
attempt in 2011 to retrieve six months of lost lois lerner e-mails from backup tapes or in fact from the main hard drive of the server. he testified that he does not know who at the irs was involved in leaking the knowledge about lois lerner's e-mails to treasury and onto the white house. he further testified that he did not believe leaking to the white house was a problem because the white house itself does not leak information. we'll chalk that one up to naive and not perjury. he testified that because he does not know what was in lois lerner's e-mail, he has no grounds to believe they contain federal records. while i appreciate his time and
2:01 am
effort, our relationship with the irs and the commissioner was not improved by his disappointing performance. in fact, one of the most troubling portions of his testimony was to tell us that someone who he could not name who worked for him had told him sometime in the entire month of april, not the 1st of april or 15th of april when we have to pay taxes, sometime in a 30-day period someone he could not remember told him one of the most important pieces of information any of us could imagine. that thousands, tens of thousands or perhaps more e-mails of lois lerner were gone forever. i hope the witnesses before us today can help us understand further how we can have an agency that expects all americans to maintain critical documents for at least seven
2:02 am
years and in fact the agency itself systematically destroys records after six months. they're worried about data integrity for a catastrophic event but not for criminal wrongdoing of their own employees. not for waste, fraud and abuse within the agency. this is an agency the commissioner was sent to fix. this is an agency that had lavish partners and did not even live up to the requirement for tax filing by its own members when it held a party complete with a very expensive video at disneyland. this is an agency that targeted conservatives for their political beliefs. that asked them for who their donors were and whether they said prayers at the beginning of an event. what they did in every way and held out their application for
2:03 am
501c4 like a carrot never informing them that even the president's 501c4 wasn't registered. today the committee will hear testimony from o'connor. during an interview last year, irs chief counsel william wilkins testified that ms. o'connor was one of the two key supervisors overseeing the irs' response to congressional oversight. in fact, ms. o'connor was hired by the irs for the sole purpose of overseeing the agency's response to congressional investigations of the targeting scandal. from may 2013 on, ms. o'connor
2:04 am
led the response to the oversight of irs' targeting of conservatives. she was promoted to the white house counsel office to work on responding to congressional oversight across the entire administration. the irs supposedly has spent $10 million in its response to congress. i'm hoping ms. o'connor will enlighten us about how the irs spent so much of the taxpayers' money but supposedly took them over a year to realize two years of e-mails from the most critical witness had gone missing. and in fact, that same year since she first took the fifth. the idea that the irs just didn't notice is without believability. we'll also want to know from ms. o'connor how the white house came to have insider knowledge
2:05 am
about ms. lerner's missing e-mails and more broadly what role the white house plays in this investigation. today we will also hear from the ark visit of the united states, david ferriero. these laws include the federal records act that were put in place precisely for the purpose of preserving important federal records. in particular i want to ask the archivist about a claim made last night. they said that irs didn't report a loss or destruction of federal records because there's no way to know what was in ms. lerner's missing e-mails. in fact, we do know some things about where and were in ms. lerner's e-mails. we know from 2010 e-mail correspondents we found at the department of justice that ms.
2:06 am
lerner sent over 1.1 million pages of a data base to assist the possible prosecution of those same groups that were targeted and that that information included 6103 personal identifiable information including donors. i am hoping the archivist whose loss and destruction would and should have been reported in 2011. the hearing today continues the committee's oversight efforts of the irs targeting to get to basic answers for the american people. the committee will continue to aggressively search for answers about how and why the irs allowed to be destroyed lois lerner's e-mails. this information is critical to the committee's investigation of the irs targeting of
2:07 am
conservative organizations. i might add in closing, the archivist is a welcoming friend of this committee. the archives fall within our jurisdiction. we take great pride in the work that the national archives does. just last night very proudly i showed to the commissioner and put in the record a little piece of history of general jackson demanding that his government in 1803 return some of the tax revenue taken from him for liquor that could never be produced because the still burned. that was not covered by the federal records act but because of the unique work that national archive does often with volunteers from around america who come and study and research, we know what we did not know then and would have not ever demanded to store. so i would say here today to my ranking member and to all of the
2:08 am
members of the committee, the federal records act is a minimum of what must be stored but there can be no limit to the maximum of what will benefit generations unborn if we can preserve a greater amount of documents with massive capability that our electronic era gives us. with that i recognize the ranking member. >> good morning. i welcome the opportunity to hear this morning from the archivist of the united states about outstanding challenges that federal agencies with electronic records retention. during the bush administration, the federal agencies admitted to losing millions, millions of e-mails relating to ongoing congressional and criminal investigations including the u.s. attorney firing and outing of covert cia agent valerie
2:09 am
plame and a host of other matters. our committee played an integral role in investigating these problems. representative henry waxman, our former chairman, engaged in a constructive effort to find solutions to these challenges. he hosted monthly meetings with the archivist and the white house counsel's office to monitor progress in implementing recommendations. i believe the archivist would agree with his predecessor that those meetings served a useful purpose. today the white house system automatically preserves e-mails from all employee e-mail accounts. since 2008, there's been additional progress. on november 28th, 2011, president obama issued a
2:10 am
directive to agencies managing federal records. the president also directed the archivist and director of the office on management and budget to craft a modernized framework to improve agency performance and begin managing e-mail records in electronic formats by 2016. i look forward to hearing a status report on these efforts. i also archivist will give us his view on legislation i introduced last year. the electronic message preservation act which will require federal agencies to reserve e-mail records electronically. the committee voted on a bipartisan basis to approve my legislation but language since then and republican leaders have declined to bring it to the floor for a vote. although today's hearing could
2:11 am
have potential to help improve agency systems from managing electronic records, i was dismayed last night that chairman issa issued a letter to compel ms. o'connor to appear today. today's hearing title is "lois lerner's lost e-mails." it is true that ms. o'connor used to work at irs. she worked there from may to november of last year. the problem is that ms. o'connor left the irs seven months ago in 2013 well before these recent discoveries about lois lerner's e-mails. as commissioner koskinen testified last night, irs officials learned there was a potential problem in february of 2013 and it was not until may of
2:12 am
2014 that they understood the scope of the problem completed their investigation and determined extent to which e-mails were available or not. ms. o'connor left the irs before any of these discoveries occurred. so why is she here? according to the chairman's own press release, it's not because of her old job. it's because of her new one. she currently works at the white house counsel's office. she's worked there for less than a month. one month. but apparently that's enough to warrant a subpoena from the committee. last night republicans demanded to know when the white house first became aware that the irs was having difficulty locating ms. lerner's e-mails. i'm sure my colleagues will repeat those questions today over and over and over again.
2:13 am
but we already know the answer. the white house sent a letter to congress on june 18th and it said this and i quote. "in april of this year, treasury office of general counsel informed the white house counsel's office that it appeared ms. lerner's custodial e-mail account contained very few e-mails prior to april 2011 and that the irs was investigating the issue and if necessary would explore alternate means to locate additional e-mails." that was in april but ms. o'connor did not start her job at the white house until at least a month later. i ask to enter this june 18th letter into the record. >> without objection so ordered. >> today's hearing is not about policy.
2:14 am
today's hearing is not about policy or substance. it's about politics and press. today ms. o'connor will join the ranks of dozens of other officials during chairman issa's tenure who have been hauled up here without a vote or without a debate as part of a partisan attempt to generate headlines with unsubstantiated allegations against the white house. regardless of how many times republicans claim the white house was behind the irs actions, there's still no evidence. none. that the white house was involved in any way with screening applicants for tax exempt status. no one of the 41 witnesses we have interviewed has identified any evidence of white house involvement or political motivation. not one.
2:15 am
and the inspector general has also, by the way who was appointed by president bush, has also identified no evidence to support these baseless claims. issuing a subpoena to a white house lawyer does not change that fact. i sincerely hope that today's hearing will focus on the serious examination of the long standing and widespread challenges of retaining electronic records and constructive solutions. i look forward to the statements of our witnesses and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. members may have seven days to submit opening statements for the record. it's now my pleasure to welcome our panel of witnesses. ms. jennifer o'connor is an attorney currently in the office of the white house counsel and prior to that as mr. cummings said, worked as the primary
2:16 am
deliverer of discovery to this committee while at the irs. the honorable david ferriero is the acrchivist and he's accompanied by mr. paul webster and i ask that he be able to answer questions and he'll be sworn in and my understanding for all of us is that mr. wester is the man most knowledgeable of working with cios throughout government to ensure that the federal records act are adhered to and as a result is in fact -- mr. ferriero i appreciate you bringing him and knows the most of what's been asked of government and what government should and would deliver and at
2:17 am
what budget. with that i would ask that you all please rise pursuant to committee rules and take the oath. please raise your right hands high, please. thank you. do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth. let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. for those who have not testified here before, there's a five-minute clock in front of you. i do not gavel people at five minutes but as you see it go yellow, you summarize. as you see it go red, bring it to a conclude as quickly as possible. ms. o'connor, please give us your opening statement. >> chairman issa, ranking member cummings and ranking members of the committee, my name is jennifer o'connor. i practiced for many years at a
2:18 am
law firm where i managed litigation matters. on may 30th of 2013, i joined the irs as counselor to the acting commissioner. i left that position on november 30th of 2013. i understand the committee is interested in my time at the irs. i look forward to answering all of your questions today. thank you. >> thank you. mr. ferriero. >> chairman issa, ranking member cummings and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify to the disposal of records at the irs. accompanying me is paul wester. government and a member of my senior management. first, concerning the reported unauthorized disposal, federal
2:19 am
agencies are responsible for preventing the unauthorized disposition of federal records including unlawful or accidental destruction, deletion or removal from federal custody. agencies should carefully monitor the implementation of approved records schedule to prevent unauthorized destruction. when an agency becomes aware of an incident of unauthorized destruction, they must report the incident to us. the report should describe the records, the circumstances in which the unauthorized destruction took place, and the corrective steps being taken to properly manage the records in the future. if we hear about the incident before the agency has reported it, we'll notify the agency and request similar information. the goal of this process is to ensure that the circumstances that may have led to the loss of federal records are corrected and not repeated. we learned of the unauthorized disposal of the irs records through a letter dated june 13th, 2013, from the irs to
2:20 am
senators widen and hatch. in this letter the irs reported the loss of e-mail records of lois lerner, the former head of irs and exempt organization division dating from 2009 to 2011 as the result of a failure of hard drive. we asked the irs to investigate the alleged disposal of records and whether it was broader than was reported in the june 13th, 20 2014 letter. we asked for a response within 30 days. on a daily basis, professionals worked to ensure records management policies and practices protect the rights of the government and citizens and identify the permanently valuable records that document the national experience. in november of 2011, the president issued a memorandum on managing government records, which result eed in issuing the
2:21 am
management government records directive in august 2012. goals to require electronic record keeping to ensure transparency, efficiency and accountability and demonstrate compliance with statutes and regulations. there are a number of activities associated with these goals but the action is by the end of 2016 federal agencies must manage all e-mail records in an electronic format and by the end of 2019, all permanent electronic records in federal agencies will be managed electronically to the fullest extent possible. the effective management of e-mail is a central animating issue for the national archives as we work to meet the requirements of the directive to help agencies meet the goal of managing their e-mail and electronic form by the end of 2016, we have issued updated
2:22 am
guidance known as capstone. the capstone approach was adopted as part of our ongoing efforts to evaluate how agencies have used e-mail records and provide agencies with a workable and cost efficient solution to e-mail records management challenges especially as they consider cloud based solutions. it also offers the agencies the option of using a simplified and automated approach to manage e-mail as opposed to either print and file or click and file systems that require staff to file individual e-mail records. the capstone approach allows for capture of records that should be preserved as permanent from the accounts of officials at or near the top of an agency or an organizational subcomponent. an agency may designate e-mail accounts of additional employees as capstone when they are in positions that are likely to create or receive permanent e-mail records. following this approach, an agency can schedule all of their e-mail and capstone accounts as
2:23 am
permanent records. the agency should then schedule the remaining e-mail accounts in the agency or organizational unit which are not captured as permanent. as temporary and preserve all of them for a set period of time based on the agency's needs. capstone approach is part of our initial effort in providing assistance to agencies to enable them to meet the e-mail records requirement and directive. we'll continue to provide additional information and guidance as we strive to meet all of the directives mandates. thank you for the opportunity to appear today. mr. wester and i look forward to answering your questions about federal records. >> thank you. mr. wester, i understand you don't have a formal opening statement but to set a tone for the committee if you would tell the committee about what your relationship is with cios and how you're working with them and how you're working to hit the deadlines of capstone on behalf
2:24 am
of the achivist and how you receive documents from treasury and irs. if you could set the stage, i think that's a good nonpartisan way to begin. >> thank you. i work with 100 staff members here in the washington, d.c. area and around the country to provide records management assistance to all federal agencies across the government of which there are about 250 active agencies that we work with. the staff that works on records management policy activities at the national archives work with the cio council and other councils across the government to identify different ways we need to approach this records management electronic records management challenge. what we've been doing since implementation of the directive back in august of 2013 is working with all of the different agencies across the government to figure out how we can meet the two deadlines so by
2:25 am
the end of the decade ensuring all agencies are managing printable records and making sure that e-mail records are managed in automotive ways with temporary and permanent e-mails by the end of 2016. there's been a number of different activities which i can answer questions about as we go. but we work very closely with agency records officers across the government including at treasury and the internal revenue service so that they understand where we are trying to go with electronic records management as a government and understand what their obligations are with the federal records act and the directive itself in how we try to bring those two things together to make effective records management work across the government. >> thank you. i'll now recognize a series of questions. last night we finished late so i won't able to get to best buy. two days before i needed to acquire a storage device so i spent about $150 and bought a
2:26 am
hard drive for about $149 plus sales tax. the irs commissioner last night told us that it would cost about $10 million if he was going to maintain the kind of data that we were interested in. the 80 or so deposatories as i understand would have been a fraction of $149 if they were simply moving them to a single place and backing that up. i guess, mr. wester, is it true realistically that a few hundred dollar drive and then duplicate of that drive realistically would be able to hold all of the data that those 80 depositories set aside as important permanent documents. >> chairman issa, you identified one challenge we have to deal with is being able to store and preserve e-mail and other
2:27 am
electronic records and as you identified the cost of doing this are coming down tremendously and that is not a huge factor within the issue that we're talking about. the issue that agencies are confronting is that they need to be able to organize that data and be able to provide access to it which is separate from the storage piece. that is where there are additional costs that agencies need to incur to be able to do that. having said that, a lot of agencies to be able to be responsive to request and to committees like this one and responsible for other kind of requests and business needs they have have to develop search capabilities to access those materials that are on those drives. and so that is where some of the complexity and the costs start to add up. as agencies are doing that kind of procurement any way to support their business needs, we believe that approaches like capstone e-mail approach allow agencies to be able to do that effectively. >> thank you.
2:28 am
mr. ferriero, there's a document put up on the board dated october 6, 2010, in which lois lerner sent 1.1 million documents including personal identifiable 6103 information to department of justice in order to aid potential prosecution. have you viewed that e-mail? >> yes, i have. >> would you say that is a record under the federal records act? >> not having access to the records schedule that was created by which this message was created, it is an e-mail that is record whether it's a temporary record or a permanent record, i can't tell. >> when the commissioner said that in fact he didn't know if the lost e-mails of which this is one included items covered under the federal records acts, he was mistaken, is that correct? >> all i can say is if it was a created from what i read it is a
2:29 am
record. what i can't tell is whether it's a temporary record or a permanent record. >> lastly, this committee has jurisdiction. is it reasonable to destroy after six months data routinely so a request simply goes to data that isn't there any longer. if you want to know what was said or done, if it doesn't happen to be maintained by choice, it's gone at the end of six months at the irs. >> that's right. >> so the question to the irs are pretty useless and we now know what ftc it's 45 days. is that in fact in the best interest of freedom of information in your opinion? >> there again, if it was a permanent record, then it is not best practice. >> ms. o'connor, you declined to come here voluntary so question subpoenaed you. you are not pleased to be here but it's important that you're
2:30 am
here. you were at the irs and hired when we began our investigation and requested selected documents of lois lerner in may of 2013, is that correct? >> i started on may 30th. >> so they hired you when we said we want a bunch of documents, correct? >> the acting commissioner. >> yes or no, please. you're a hostile witness. were you hired -- >> i'm not at all a hostile witness. >> yes, you are. you were hired in may. in june when we were not getting delivery, we went and subpoenaed and in august you were at the irs, is that correct? >> i was there in august. >> in august of 2013, we requested all lois lerner e-mails and not any selection, not any limited group, are you aware of that? >> yes. >> what did you do to determine the envelope or window of all at that time in august of 2013? >> so can i explain the process a little bit? i think it would help --
2:31 am
>> my time has technically expired so i would ask you be full and complete. wait a second. full and complete in what you did from august until the time you left to secure all the documents, please. >> a little background is helpful. when i arrived on may 30th, the irs had a team that was already in place collecting materials and beginning to respond to the congressional investigations. i joined to be his counselor and perform a number of different things a piece of which was helping to respond to the four different congressional committees and the ig and others seeking materials and so i played a role that was a liaison to him, his direction was to be cooperative and try to gather and produce materials as quickly as possible. and also to be a liaison to your staff and the staff of the other committees who were interested in figuring out how they could get their priorities to them as
2:32 am
quickly as they could. and by that what i mean is identifying the employees whose materials they wanted to see first and using search terms in order to identify the documents at interest. the reason search terms were necessary as opposed to turning everything wholesale among others as you know is there's a statute called internal revenue code 6103, which is a criminal statute passed by congress that requires the irs to protect taxpayer information and the way in which they do that in situations like this is they have to read every single document to see if there's taxpayer information in it and redact it if necessary before producing it. a big piece of the effort was to figure out how we could move information as quickly to the congressional committee and move them what they were looking for. so in may what that amounts to
2:33 am
is when i arrived ms. lerner's material had already been collected as had some other employees materials. there was more collection that went on after that. the process as they explained it to me and i'm not a tech expert but the irs material is protected with careful encryption and so it needs to be processed before it can be reviewed so they have to load it and then flatten it and decrypt it and the dekripgs creates errors and they have to do it again and in that piece of the process which is the first piece of the process they would run terms that congressional committee staff had identified over the material and once that was done and material was viewable they would move it to a review tool and when i first got there one of the things that i was deoing was talking about ho to move volume quickly we had to remove people because irs never
2:34 am
encountered something like this and didn't have staff in place to do this document review and production. in addition, the technical infrastructure wasn't there to support it so we had a lot of issues that we had to deal with in terms of adding servers and capacity and having technical experts deal with the systems that it would be stable. when we got to august which is where your question was, you did express an interest in all of the e-mails. we were at that point already sort of well into a process that had begun in may with ms. lerner and everyone else's e-mails loaded at that point had been loaded with all of the terms. and so they were being reviewed. so the staff who were working on this day-to-day continued to review all of that material. it was the intention as soon as we got that done, we would circle back and make sure the subpoena was complied with. i left in november. we were still in the process of
2:35 am
the rolling production. it wasn't finished yet but it was my understanding and i believe it to be true and i have no reason to think it wasn't true, they intended to continue to produce information but the difference between the selected lois lerner information and all of lois lerner's information comes from the fact that initially the process was organized around material that had search terms applied to it versus the material at the end. i hope that sort of lay it s it quickly. >> in august of 2013, your testimony is that when receiving a subpoena and explicit instructions that this was our highest priority that we wanted all of the e-mails of the person who took the fifth in front of this committee and who in fact was not cooperating and who indications were was at the center of this targeting of conservatives, the decision was made to get to it after you got
2:36 am
done with all of the others so when you left the agency, they had not yet done the extensive search or not yet looked for all of her e-mails and as a result that's why we go until april of this year until we discover that all e-mails were to be found. >> i wasn't there when the discovery of the lost e-mails were incurred. >> on the day you left, they had not set out to discover all e-mails but had not complied with the subpoena in the sense they had not gathered all of her e-mails and they were waiting until they got done with other things they wanted to do and then they would look for all of the e-mails. >> that wasn't what i meant. >> i would like to know what you meant because obviously they didn't know they were missing in the months that you were there after a subpoena asked for all of them. i appreciate that you told us in great detail -- i appreciate that. it helps us understand.
2:37 am
you told us in great detail about the process that you went through but of course the process you went through was a process that you determined that you wanted to go through. we issued a subpoena and 6103 redaction doesn't take the place of your gathering all of that. they were entitled to receive all of her e-mails without redaction and so was ways and means if they chose to receive it. >> right. i believe that -- it was gathered before i got there. my understanding from the team -- i didn't interact with them directly. my understanding from the team who did gather it was they gathered everything that was there and so in the process from the point at which i got there to the point at which i left, the team who was working very hard on being able to get you material was reviewing and processing and redacting as necessary all of the material that had been loaded into which the search terms that your staff and staff of the other
2:38 am
committees had identified. the process -- i wasn't there when the process of going back to look at the ones that had originally been loaded but hadn't hit the search terms were reviewed. when i left, my understanding is that was something that was going to continue because the agency seemed fully intending to continue to comply with your subpoenas and i have no reason to believe that it didn't. >> thank you. mr. cummings? >> thank you very much. ms. o'connor, let me ask you this. you were at irs for about six or seven months from may to november of last year, is that right? >> six months from may 30th to november 30th, sir. >> and i was wondering when you came in, what instructions were you given with regard to production of documents? in other words, what were you
2:39 am
told was the priorities and what were you instructed to do. just curious. >> his strong imperative was that we gather and produce everything that the congressional investigators and the inspector general wanted. and he wanted it to be done as quickly as possible. he was interested in being completely transparent and the directives he gave to me -- one of my roles was to be his liaison to the team working full time on the document production. in that capacity, one of the things i tried to do and worked on doing was to help them get stuff out faster and to review faster so that more volumes of the material that the committee was looking for and there were four different committees, four different investigations, but he wanted to be able to get all of it to the investigation staff and committee members in part because the irs had been asked by the inspector general not to
2:40 am
conduct its own investigation and not interview witnesses so the investigative activity was happening in the congressional committees and at the ig so it was important to get them that material. that's what he told me to do. that's what i worked with the team on doing. >> is that what you tried to do? >> it's very much what i tried to do. >> and so you left in november, is that right? >> yes. >> of 2013? so you were not there this past february when the irs first identified potential issues with lois lerner's e-mails, is that right? >> that's correct. >> you said something that was very interesting. you said when you got there, ms. lerner's information had already been collected. is that what you said? >> yes, that's correct. >> what does that mean? >> well, to my understanding -- i didn't directly interface with the staff who did this, but professional long-term irs staff
2:41 am
went to ms. lerner's computer and took the hard drive and imaged it and took e-mails on it and made copies of all of that. my understanding is that a set of staff and again it happened before i got there so this is my understanding also went through her office to collect any paper copies that were -- i think they collected everything and went through it to find out what was responsive. >> they actually went through her office to your knowledge to try to find paper copies? >> to my knowledge, yes. again, i want to clarify that i didn't witness it. i wasn't there. that's what i was told. >> i see. and so let me ask you this. did you feel that you were able to carry out the instruction in? he told you to do things
2:42 am
quickly. he told you to be transparent and he told you -- that's what he told you. did you do that? >> we did our best. there was hurdles with technology and we had to add resources and add staff and add technological resources so i think, you know, nobody thought it was as quick as they would have liked. we worked very hard to get the material to the committees as quickly as we could. >> you were not there in april when the commissioner learned that some of ms. lerner's e-mails may not be recoverable, is that right? >> i was not there in april, no. >> you weren't working at the irs -- were you there at any time when he was there? >> we didn't overlap. >> you never worked for him. >> no. >> and how long have you worked at the white house? >> about a month. i just got there. >> you just got the job? >> yes. >> so congress received a letter from the white house last week
2:43 am
on june 18th that explains how the white house found out about ms. lerner's e-mails. it says this and i quote, "in april of this year, treasury office of general counsel informed white house counsel office that it appears ms. lerner's e-mail account contained few e-mails prior to april 2011 and the irs was investigating the issue and if necessary would explore alternate means to locate additional e-mails." so the treasury told the white house in april, which would have been a month before you started at the white house, is that right? >> that's what that letter says. i wasn't there, so i don't know. >> i want to thank you for being here today. i know this is difficult. are you a lawyer? >> i am. >> you know what a hostile witness is? >> i do. >> chairman said told you that you were a hostile witness. and you said you were not, is that right? >> that's correct. >> do you consider yourself a
2:44 am
hostile witness? >> i'm definitely not hostile. >> so you got a subpoena last night. a unilateral subpoena. no committee vote. no debated on. nothing. you had to turn around and testify here this morning. i want to state for the record that we've seen no evidence that ms. o'connor did anything inappropriate whatsoever and we want to thank you for your service and for your testimony. mr. ferriero, let me turn to you. the challenges at irs are not unique. many federal agencies have had problems retaining electronic records. i know the president has made some improvement with his memorandum in 2011 and that you and the office of management and budget have set target dates for agencies to improve their electronic data systems. but we can always do better, can't we? >> we sure can. >> as you know i introduced a
2:45 am
bill a year and a half ago amending the federal records act to require you to establish minimum standards for federal agencies to manage and preserve e-mail records electronically. the bill would complement your efforts to get agencies to modernize their record keeping systems. this bill passed our committee with bipartisan support. i'm very pleased to say. you have testified several times in support in support of legislation. do you think the legislation could help improve the quality of the federal e-mail preservation? >> i certainly do. in fact, the directive relied heavily upon the language of empa as we were crafting the directive. >> i sat here last night. and i listened to you know, the testimony of you, mr. webster.
2:46 am
i'm trying to figure out, how do we -- it seems as if when -- it seems like our system and probably other agencies, we're so far behind the electronic -- i mean the i.t. modern world. how do we get ahold of that and move forward? sounds like that was part of the problem here. >> and that's what we addressed in the directive. i agree we have a lot of work to do in the federal government. working with our cio partners. >> is it too big to solve? >> no, it's not too big. we've created something within the national archives this cap stone project which is one solution. that takes advantage of existing technologies. the biggest problem over time and this is in the paper environment as well as the electronic environment whenever you have a human being in the middle of it making decisions is, then have you problems.
2:47 am
and of our focus has been on getting the human being out of the process and relying on technology to capture the information ha we need to capture. >> my last question, what can we do? you know, i can be see us sitting here it, i probably won't be here but in five years, ten years from now, sitting here going through the same situation. what can can we do as members of congress during our watch to help address this issue? i mean, you said people. we've got to have a people. we capital have the, let everybody go. so what do we do? >> we have the directive, and we're moving ahead. we have the support of the administration for this and we have the empa bill. if you could convince your colleagues to get the empa bill and get it through the senate, that would also help us because that would legislate the change
2:48 am
in the federal records act that we need. federal records act today says print and save. this is 2014 and we're printing and saving? this is embarrassing. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. i just want to make sure i make the record clear on something the ranking member said. i checked with congressman gowdy who has a lot more knowledge of law and i do. he said a term i should have used was noncooperative witness rather than hostile since you and the white house refused to provide your services here on an ordinary ordinary request and we had to subpoena unilaterally based on the denial that you would appear otherwise. so i want to make sure that i don't use a word that perhaps does make people think something isn't true. this is simply a witness that refused to cooperate without eight subpoena. >> mr. mica. >> thank you, mr. chairman. just for the record, i heard the ranking member start with the comments that we were hauling
2:49 am
people up here unnecessarily. that was his phrase. and i would take great difference with that comment. first of all, last night, we brought mr. koskinen back, the commissioner. and we brought him back, and i went through his testimony when he came to us in march. and he never mentioned any problem with the e-mails back in march, lois lerner's e-mails. the chairman showed everyone on the committee both sides of the aisle asking for lois lerner's e-mails. he came and said to us that last week, this is his testimony in march, last week we informed this committee and others that we believe we completed production of all of the requests. under the inspector general's
2:50 am
report of may 2013. and he, in fact, testified last night in his written testimony that he had been aware of technical problems back in february. so i think we had every right to call him back. the other side would intimate that this it is some kind of republican stirring things up. my goodness, last week, the entire country and the congress was stunned to find out that 27 months of lois lerner's e-mails had supposedly been destroyed or her computer crashed. so i think we have every right. mr. archivist, the law says that federal records law requires that the national archives be noticed when documents are
2:51 am
destroyed or lost. is that the law, sir? >> that is the law. >> okay. and miss conner, you were brought on board after this report. this is not a republican report. this report was prepared by the treasurer inspector general for tax administration to see if groups were targeted and it confirmed that. you're aware of this report, miss conner? >> i have read the report. >> you were brought on what, to compile the records from and all the information pertaining to what was in that report or. >> i was brought on to give advice to active -- >> we requested in may certain documents. when you came on in early june, the irs sent documentation attention notices to employees who were identified as having documents including relevant e-mail potentially relevant information to investigators.
2:52 am
you were part of that request and noticed to employees in early june. you were there in early june? >> i was there in early june but my understanding is that an a subset of employees had already -- >> this had been sent out. you're aware that request had been made to employees to preserve and present documents? >> absolutely. it's important notice. >> that was your job. it's appropriate that you're both here today. when did you first learn that there were e-mails missing? >> i learned that ha miss lerner's e-mails were missing as the result of a computer crash the week before last. >> so you were in charge from may until november of compiling information from congress and you never heard before that that there was any missing documentation as far as e-mails? >> i didn't hear that any of miss lerner's e-mails were missing >> when you were compiling this information for the four committees of congress and working with mr. werfel, who did
2:53 am
you report to? >> mr. werfel. >> were you aware he was reporting your activity and what was found? you were in charge of reporting to mr. werfel, right? did you -- did you interact at all with anyone at the white house? >> not when i was. >> between may and november when you were there, if i get your e-mails, your schedule, like who was the -- shulman was before that. he came and testified to us that the only time he went to the white house was for egg rolling. then we subpoenaed the white house records and find he went there 113 times or something like that. but you had no contact with the white house during that period? >> actually you're jogging my memory. i want to use that as a footnote to just say i'm doing this completely by the fly off my memory. >> was there some contact? >> yes, i'm going to tell you
2:54 am
what it is. >> now you wind up in the white house. you had a subsequent job i guess helping with the obamacare situation. >> could i answer that question? i feel like it's something important 0 finish the sentence. mr. werfel went to the white house in i think late june with secretary lew in the order to give the president his report. i went into the white house with him. i wasn't in their meeting >> was this matter discussed at all? >> i wasn't in the meeting. i just accompanied him to the building. >> we would find that record. no other contact in the white house during that period? >> no. >> would you be aware that your activities were being reported to mr. werfel? and usually they have the counsel or someone it might have been treasury reporting to the white house as to what of going on with say this report. you're not aware of what took place there? >> so in terms of the ig report, i have no idea what, if anything, was reported to the white house. the visit that i had with mr. wuerffel was to give his
2:55 am
30-day report to the president. >> again, what your activity was reported to wuerffel where you were in the investigation and come pieing for congress, you weren't aware of it being transmitted beyond him? >> no. >> okay. thank you. >> we now go to the gentle lady from new york. miss maloney. >> thank you. i regret i was not able to join you last night for the hearing. we had a financial services committee or rather a bill on the floor that i had been working on and we were in debate on the floor. i just wanted to make a brief statement about the hearing that we had last night on the overall irs and this whole irs mess seems to flow directly from confusion over just how the irs should enforce a law that was passed by this congress that gives tax exempt status to not for profits but only if they are essentially politically
2:56 am
nonpartisan. and what the irs was looking at is whether these activities of these nonfor profits really merited being tax exempt because they're getting 100% deduction and putting a great deal of money into political campaigns. now, we don't have. >> would the gentle lady yield? >> you probably were not here when this was discussed but 501c4s do not get 100% deduction. you're not tax. >> not at all? >> not a penny. they are tax exempt in the money they receive from taxpayers who have paid their taxes and give them after tax income, they don't count it as profit. they simply spend it on their baffle but they are not tax deductible the way a charity is. it's a very significant difference. it is one of the reasons they can do up to half of their activities in these. these are social welfare groups, not charities. >> but they're social welfare groups and they don't get a tax deduction. >> of? >> when you give to a 501c4, you
2:57 am
do so without a tax deduction. it is taxable. you give your after tax. it's the same kind of deduction you get when you receive a political campaign. your donors pay their taxes and give you after tax income. it is not a charity. >> not at all. well, i stand corrected. i thought 501c4s had a tax treatment that was favorable to them. and i was saying why not just have a rule that no one gets a tax deduction that gets involved in political activities. but i think getting back to the e-mails, when 22 million e-mails from the bush white house went missing in wa 2003 and 2005, which was only discovered under the valerie plame affair, our colleagues across the aisle had a different take on how things should happen. and were there any provisions put in place after this loss of e-mails between 2003 and 2005
2:58 am
that made it less likely that e-mails could go missing again? i ask anyone who would like to answer that. what -- there was a terrible debacle in 2003 and 2005. what changes were put in place to prevent this from happening again? >> so i would suggest that that's an example of some of the challenges that all federal agencies across the government have as it relates to managing e-mail. and the instance we're talking about today with the irs is also another where agencies need to be able to understand how their e-mail systems work, how they're work in connection with the federal records act and how they're ensuring that preservation is occurring according to disposition schedules. that's been a wake-up call for the entire federal government. >> he would also say that ha a wake-up call is that you need your infrastructure to be hi-tech in place. and mr. pharoah, as you may be
2:59 am
aware, the irs has a 1 billion i.t. infrastructure but the federal times recently reported that sequestration and other cuts have imposed terrible restrictions on the irs including a reduction in the agency supplies and tiers in budgets. can you -- so if you basically have andty equated i.t. system in addition to not putting reforms in place. can you discuss how maintaining and tick equated i.t. system might impact an agency's records retention capability? what does this mean, these budget cuts and not having an updated i.t. system? >> it certainly plays a role in this particular case in terms of the capacity of their hard drives to retain information. the number of e-mails they're actually able to capture at one time. the upside of the directive that we're -- that we're in the
3:00 am
process of implementing is that it gives us the authority to work with the strit, the electronic mail industry the hi-tech industry to create solutions that will work for the federal government. efficient, effective and cost of benefit solutions to this problem. so i'm optimistic about the future. >> well, has funding been a significant challenge to some of these agencies and modernizing their i.t. records and retention infrastructure. >> certainly have. >> the commissioner testified and i read his testimony they have proposed $400 million to $500 million to modernization and improvement activities but this hasn't become a reality in the budget. others have complained the department still has not completed the switch from microsoft windows xp to windows 7. what kind of problem is that? can you elaborate a little further? >> this is a problem across the government in terms of the investment in technology.

8 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on